In late 2001, after the fall of the Taliban and almost three decades of conflict, Afghanistan faced a daunting set of challenges. From this dire state, very significant progress has been made. By 2010, the Government of Afghanistan initiated the Kabul Process, which aims to support full Afghan leadership and responsibility for the development of Afghanistan over the coming years. The Afghan Government has initiated 23 National Priority Programs (NPPs) covering such areas as governance, service delivery and infrastructure. The government asked donors to align their programs with the NPPs to coordinate and target development efforts in support of principles of aid effectiveness.
After more than 20 years of disengagement during years of conflict, IDA is playing a key role in supporting the Afghan people. IDA programs are aligned with and in support of the National Priority Programs, identified by the Afghan Government as key to the development of Afghanistan and the transition process. IDA’s strategy is centered on three key components: (i) building the capacity of the state and its accountability to its citizens; (ii) promoting growth of the rural economy and improving rural livelihoods; and (iii) supporting growth of the private sector. Since April 2002, IDA has committed over US$2.1 billion for 41 development and emergency reconstruction projects and four budget support operations through both grants and no-interest loans known as “credits.” As of February 28, 2011, IDA is financing 30 active projects in Afghanistan with net commitments of over US$900 million. The World Bank also administers two trust funds: i) the Afghanistan window of the Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF); and ii) the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF).
Successive IDA financing of US$16 million, US$45 million, and US$20 provided vital flood control structures in the city of Taiz and its surrounding areas. By the closing of the second phase in June 2008, major parts of Taiz city, including downtown Taiz, were transformed into livable and flash flood-secure neighborhoods and the impact of the projects on the lives and livelihoods of the people in these areas is substantial. The structures built under these successive phases include:
▪▪ Community Empowerment efforts reaching 19 million people in all of the country’s 34 provinces. As of March 4, 2011, approximately 26,623 communities have been mobilized, and 26,311 communities have successfully elected Community Development Councils (CDCs). A total of 45,220 sub-projects have been completed to date.
▪▪ The National Emergency Rural Access Project (NERAP) is working to provide year-round access to the rural areas. Since 2007, over 1,251 km of district and village roads and more than 9,000 meters of cross drainage structures have been completed.
▪▪ Since 2003, 762 medium and large-size traditional irrigation schemes serving more than 687,000 ha of land in various parts of the country were rehabilitated. An additional 138,000 ha of land are now receiving irrigation, and crop yields have increased substantially.
▪▪ Introduced for the first time in 2003, microfinance has spread swiftly to fill a huge gap in financial services created by the small and limited outreach of the banking sector. To date, the project has provided more than US$168 million in funds. There are now 14 microfinance institutions (MFIs), with a network of 294 branches in 26 provinces, and more than 429,989 clients. Sixty percent of the clients are women and 30 percent of the businesses are run by women.
▪▪ Under the Horticulture Component of the Horticulture and Livestock Project, over 2,700 ha of new orchards (grapes, apricots, almonds, and pomegranates) have been planted so far, and over 600 women have participated in the program.
The ARTF is a partnership between the international community and the Afghan government for the improved effectiveness of the reconstruction effort. Since early 2002, 32 donors have contributed over US$4.1 billion, making the ARTF the largest contributor to the Afghan budget – for both operating costs and development programs.
Toward the Future
Afghanistan’s achievements in the last ten years have been impressive in many ways. The coming years will be critical to strengthening Afghan institutions’ ability to deliver basic services nationally and consolidate and expand the economic development gains made to date. IDA’s role during this period—beyond the provision of its own resources—must be to continue to make the case for these principles, and to help the government effectively prioritize and utilize its own resources.